Tour of missouri is Discovery Channel Team's last race together

According to a CBS Sports story:
Discovery has a few more races left on its calendar. But the inaugural Tour of Missouri, which begins Tuesday in Kansas City, is the final time its top riders will compete together.

"It hit me a long time ago," said fellow American rider Levi Leipheimer. "I would describe it as sad, but I guess nothing lasts forever."

Team director Johan Bruyneel, who oversaw strategy for all eight tour victories, said his time with the team was rewarding but exhausting.

"It's the end of a beautiful period in my life," Bruyneel said. "All good things come to an end. I'm kind of preparing for it a little bit, but until you're in the heat of the action, you don't really realize this is it."

Bruyneel said the team chose to bring its star riders to the Missouri race -- instead of the prestigious Spanish Vuelta, where Discovery is fielding some of its lesser-known riders -- as a thank-you to American fans.

Hincapie and Leipheimer will be joined by Spanish rider Alberto Contador, the 24-year-old who won the Tour de France in July. And while the riders are exhausted, Discovery is coming to win.

"It's not going to be a holiday race," Bruyneel said. "Our guys are performing." . . .

Armstrong, who remained a part-owner of the team after retiring in 2005, announced in August that the team was halting its sponsorship search and would disband.

"It's a sad day for cycling. Certainly a sad day for American cycling," Armstrong said last month. "We're proud of our record."

And, no doubt, of the impact it had on U.S. sports fans.

Americans were aware of cycling after Greg LeMond won the Tour de France in 1986, 1989 and 1990. But Armstrong's story of cancer survival put the brash Texan -- and the Tour -- front and center in the American sports consciousness.

By the time Armstrong was going for his sixth Tour victory in 2004, yellow "LIVESTRONG" cancer-awareness wristbands were everywhere and L'Alpe d'Huez was the subject of office water-cooler conversations.

"I never imagined that," Hincapie said. "Even he never imagined it, when the whole wristband thing started."

But Bruyneel said Armstrong's first victory, in 1999, was the sweetest.

"We were convinced we could win, but nobody else was," Bruyneel said. "He became more than an athlete. He survived cancer and won the most difficult sporting event in the world."